How To Use Camera Lenses

Photography is a hugely popular hobby for many and can be a means to a successful career. But If you’ve made the leap from smartphone photography to a DSLR or mirrorless system that needs a variety of different lenses, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Whether it’s family portraits, rural landscapes, or you aim to be the next Potato Photographer of the Year, it’s important to know as much as you can about your equipment, and knowing the best lens for the job is vital.

We have a brief guide below for you


1. Get closer to the subject

‘Zoom with your feet’ is a common phrase you may have come across in photography. It means that you should reduce your reliance on zoom lenses and get physically closer to your subject.

For example, using a standard 18-55mm lens means you can photograph a subject at both 5 metres and 10 metres, but the images will look different. It is important to figure out what distance is best for your subjects and use a lens of appropriate focal length.


2. Start by using the wrong subjects

In general, you would use a wide-angle lens for landscapes and a telephoto lens for portraits. But by using different lenses you have the opportunity to experiment and discover new ways of shooting and looking at your subject.

For example, try taking a macro lens, used more often for food and close-up photography, and use it for taking portraits. Compare the image with those taken with a telephoto lens, or a wide lens as part of a study.


3. Try different focal lengths

The focal length is the optical distance where the rays of light converge to form an image on the sensor of the camera and are one of the most studied areas in the field of photography.

Whether you have a zoom lens or a set of prime lenses (lenses that are fixed at a particular focal length), try shooting a subject at a particular focal length, moving around the subject and getting closer or further away on foot. Then try a different set of shots at a different focal length.

Comparing the images will help you see what works best for you and the subject, and at what focal length you are more comfortable with.


4. Measure certain apertures

The aperture refers to the amount of light entering the camera, and it's measured in a unique terminology - f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, etc. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture, and the narrower the depth of field.

Experimenting with the aperture settings with different subjects will help you work out what works best for any particular shot.


5. Use one lens type for a long period

To become a great photographer, then you must master one lens at a time. Try using only one lens for a couple of weeks or longer to get a better grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of each lens so you can determine the best time to use it, and when to choose a different lens.


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